Emporia EMS, fire and law enforcement officials are neck and neck in this year’s Battle of the Badges Blood Drive.

The public is encouraged to visit Twelfth Avenue Baptist Church, 2023 12th Ave., to donate blood in support of local first responders and those in need of blood.

“Because of summer time and some of the disasters that have occurred nationally, (the Red Cross) are in high demand,” Lyon County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sergeant Jacob Welsh said. “It’s a critical need time. They really need a lot of blood.”

If possible, Welsh encourages donors to consider doing the Power Red donation.

“That blood is so important, because I think it’s useful within just a matter of days, versus some of the other stuff; it takes them a little longer in the testing to get it useful,” he said about Power Red.

Wednesday’s goal was 110 pints, though they received 129. Thursday’s goal is 93, and Friday’s is 62. Donations can be made between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday.

“The Red Cross folks, when we partner up with them, they tell us that this is one of their biggest blood drives in the state of the whole year,” Emporia Police Sergeant Lisa Sage said.

While the competition keeps things light-hearted and exciting, Emporia first responders are focused on the bigger cause.

“It’s so important to be able to give back to the community in a different way,” Sage said. “We get to interact with the citizens and the donors that come in, in such a different way. It’s a really good, feel-good type of event.”

“Even though we have that little bit of a competitive edge with each other, we all know it’s for a greater good,” Emporia Fire Department Battalion Chief Ryan Conley said. “The greater cause is to help serve our community. That’s what’s really great about our community and our law enforcement and our police and our emergency services in general — is that we’re all here for our community, and we have a really good working relationship with everybody.”

The event is also a good way for first responders to gather together in a more casual atmosphere.

“We talk about it being the battle between law enforcement and fire, but really it’s a good time to just hang out and meet people that we don’t always see but maybe once a year here at this event,” Welsh said. “We have fun with each other. It’s a good three days of building camaraderie between all the agencies.”

Last year, the fire department won Battle of the Badges, flaunting the trophy on their table display.

“It gets heavy hauling it around year after year,” Conley said about the trophy.

“I’m sure that the law enforcement is doing better than the fire department, but I don’t know,” Welsh joked. “It could be the other way around.”

Sage particularly encourages individuals who have never donated blood to come check out the event.

“Come out and give it a try,” she said. “You don’t even have to come out and give, you can come out and check it out and see what it’s all about.”

Plenty of snacks and other goodies are available, and T-shirts are given out to donors.

“It’s fairly painless,” Conley said. “It’s easy to do. All you’ve got to do is come sit down, relax and they’ll take care of all the work for you.”

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